SAN DIEGO–The County Board of Supervisors received an update on the impact COVID-19 pandemic is having in San Diego county.
The update primarily covered how the county’s T3 (Test, Trace, Treat) Strategy is focusing on populations and communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Those efforts, most of which have been ongoing throughout the pandemic, are helping to drive down the testing positivity percentage in these populations and communities. Reducing that percentage is called for by a new state metric for health equity.
“San Diego has been doing the work needed to resolve barriers, and has focused interventions where there is a disproportionate impact of COVID-19, as a means to accelerate progress toward recovery,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.
Some of the immediate strategies the county has deployed are: Prioritized testing of ethnic and vulnerable populations, including testing at the border and rural communities, a focused testing strategy in South County, outreach and testing directed toward Latino farm workers, hiring tracing staff to reflect diversity of clients served using promotoras, a term for community health workers, in contact tracing efforts, and establish four tracing contracts with community-based organizations.
The county also developed a capacity for more than 1,000 public health rooms to be made available for people unable to isolate or quarantine safely at home. The rooms come with wraparound services, such as transportation, food and health care.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the county has administered more than 1.2 million tests and has conducted more than 57,000 case investigations and more than 43,000 contact tracing interviews.
The county is initiating 97% of case investigations and tracing 96% of close contacts within 24 hours. On average, a case investigation is started and completed in 3.6 days after a person gets tested.
“From the beginning, health equity has been central to the T3 Strategy of test, trace and treat,” said Nick Macchione, director of the County Health and Human Services Agency, who spearheads the T3 Strategy. “It’s been about accessible COVID-19 testing, especially for those communities disproportionately affected by the virus. Culturally competent disease investigation is extremely important, as is ensuring we are able to provide assistance for safe isolation and quarantine services that are individualized to the various cultural needs.”
The state issued its weekly assessment of risk levels Tuesday and San Diego county remains in Tier 2, also referred to as the Red Tier.